New Hampshire officials have filed additional charges against Kayla Montgomery, the stepmother of missing 7-year-old Harmony Montgomery.
Manchester police on Jan. 5 arrested Montgomery, 31, on a warrant for a single charge of welfare fraud after she allegedly collected more than $1,500 in food stamp benefits for the girl since she was last seen in 2019.
Prosecutors have since dropped one felony welfare fraud charge against Montgomery and replaced it with additional charges – misdemeanor welfare fraud charges and one felony theft by deception charge.
An affidavit filed Tuesday states that Montgomery told investigators she tried to remove Harmony’s name from her family’s account with the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Division of Family Assistance for food stamp benefits, which she continued to collect between 2019 and 2021, but was unsuccessful.
MISSING HARMONY MONTGOMERY: STEPMOM ARRESTED, CHARGED WITH WELFARE FRAUD
During this period, Harmony was not living with Kayla or Adam Montgomery – Kayla’s husband and Harmony’s father – who was also arrested Jan. 5 in connection to a 2019 assault against the partially blind child, the allegation says.
Investigators revealed, however, that Kayla Montgomery’s first apparent attempt to remove Harmony’s name from their family account came in June 2021. The request stated that Harmony “moved back with her [biological] mother,” Crystal Sorey.
While Harmony was gone, Kayla Montgomery was “receiving benefits and then spending them and depleting the balance perpetually,” according to the affidavit.
MISSING HARMONY MONTGOMERY: TIMELINE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE GIRL’S DISAPPEARANCE
Kayla and Adam Montgomery have three biological children together. Various documents reviewed by police show a differing number of children in the Montgomery household – some of which include two parents and four children, including Harmony. Other documents list two parents and only two or three children.
The stepmother also allegedly told police that the last time she saw Harmony was the day after Thanksgiving in 2019, when Adam Montgomery said he was going to drive Harmony to her biological mother. Sorey told Manchester police on Nov. 18, 2021, that she believed her daughter was missing and that she couldn’t get in touch with her father.
Sorey lost custody of Harmony in 2018, according to the documents, and she told investigators that both she and Adam Montgomery had prior substance abuse issues.
MISSING HARMONY MONTGOMERY: DAD ACCUSED OF GIVING PARTIALLY BLIND DAUGHTER BLACK EYE IN 2019, OTHER ABUSE
Manchester police launched a search for Harmony on Dec. 31 after first learning that she has not been seen since October 2019. Harmony is about four feet tall and 50 pounds. She has blonde hair and blue eyes and should be wearing glasses. She’s also blind in her right eye.
Kayla Montgomery pleaded not guilty during her arraignment last week at the Hillsborough County Superior Court North. A new arraignment has been scheduled for Jan. 13 at 1 p.m.
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A judge on Monday objected to the defendant’s motion to reconsider her bail, which is currently set at $5,000.
Police are asking anyone with information about Harmony’s whereabouts to call a dedicated tip line at 603-203-6060.
Fox News’ Michael Ruiz contributed to this report.